With health on everyone’s minds these days, it’s more important than ever to provide meeting attendees with nutritious menu options. “Meetings may look a little different right now, but our team remains committed to creating memorable culinary experiences that are expertly tailored to safely meet the challenges of the moment,” explains Benchmark’s senior vice president of food and beverage Patrick Berwald. “Our chefs are integrating wellness-driven, carefully sourced ingredients into mindfully prepared, healthy menus. Our mixologists are developing innovative ways to deliver cocktails in individual packaging. And our food service stations support physical distancing while still delivering warm, personalized service.”
Olivier Gaupin, Benchmark’s director of culinary operations, suggests meeting planners work with a venue’s culinarians to create educational dining experiences that help attendees make their own healthy choices. “Whether you bring in a chef, local farmer, fisherman or glass blower, attendees really value the chance to interact with the people who are crafting their food and beverage experience and to expand their understanding of the process.” He adds, “You can’t have a conversation about healthy dining today that doesn’t focus on sourcing, seasonality and sustainability. There’s a greater consciousness now of the impact of our food choices not only on our personal health but the health of our communities and our planet.”
What’s on the menu for groups with Benchmark Resorts & Hotels? Plenty!
Manor Vail Lodge in the Colorado Rockies invites groups to harvest produce from the kitchen garden in an interactive dining event called You Pick It, We Cook It. Everyone can then enjoy the literal fruits of their labor in a seasonally themed menu featuring the produce they picked supplemented with ingredients from local purveyors.
Hawaii’s Turtle Bay Resort brings local farmers in to talk about sourcing and sustainability as attendees sample their produce before sitting down for a chef-prepared meal. Or, attendees can work together to catch fish from the sea for the evening’s dinner, then learn the basics of traditional hula and storytelling from a local expert before relaxing on the lawn for a memorable luau.
And at Garden of the Gods Resort and Club, a naturopathic nutrition menu is the highlight of a themed event in which the resort’s executive chef, a nutritionist and a naturopathic doctor educate attendees about the qualities of each ingredient as they prepare a four-course meal featuring fresh, whole, organic foods.
While meal planning your next meeting, keep foods tied to brain health in mind, as suggested by The New York Times. Brightly colored fruits and vegetables—think blueberries, eggplant, and red peppers—can have a positive impact on memory and mood. Seafoods like wild salmon, cod and mussels offer omega-3 fatty acids for a healthy brain, with flax and chia seeds a great vegetarian alternative. Spice up meetings with turmeric, said to benefit attention and overall cognition, or consider other spices like cinnamon, rosemary, and ginger. Ultimately, a variety of flavors and culinary experiences are sure to fuel a positive, productive group experience.